King County Council proposes sales tax to prevent cuts to public services
August 11, 2010
By Dan Catchpole
King County voters will have the choice on the November ballot of raising the sales tax to maintain public safety services and replace the county’s Youth Services Center.
The Metropolitan King County Council approved the tax measure, which would increase the sales tax by two cents on a $10 purchase, at its July 27 meeting. It replaced a measure passed earlier.
If approved by voters, the tax increase would bring in an estimated $35 million in revenue for King County in 2011 and $48 million in 2012, the first full year the tax would be collected.
King County is projected to come up $60 million short of its $620 million general fund for 2011. More than 75 percent of general fund dollars pay for criminal justice and public safety services.
Forty percent of the tax proceeds would go to the county’s 39 cities based on their population. State law requires that the cities must spend one-third of the proceeds on criminal justice services.
The tax would decrease by one-half after three years. The other half would end in 20 years to give King County time to finance the Youth Center’s construction.
The measure also allows the county to use part of its unincorporated area levy to pay for police services in unincorporated areas — $9.5 million in 2011.
“Of the various tax proposals we considered, this option offers voters the greatest accountability and the lowest tax burden possible to achieve these basic public safety objectives,” Councilman Larry Phillips said in a press release.
The leaders of King County’s public safety services have publicly called for the council to pass a sales tax measure to prevent cuts.
Dan Catchpole: 392-6434, ext. 246, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.snovalleystar.com.